White Noise

Jack Gladney

Jack is the protagonist and narrator of White Noise. A middle-aged professor at the College-on-the-Hill and a multi-divorcé, he is intelligent and unimposing, a curious man willing to engage in thoughtful conversation. He is… (read full character analysis)

Babette

Jack’s fourth and current wife. Like Jack, Babette has been married multiple times and has retained custody of two children, Denise and Wilder. She is intelligent while projecting a pragmatic and wholesome sensibility… (read full character analysis)

Murray Jay Siskin

Jack’s colleague at the College-on-the-Hill. An ex-sportswriter, Murray works in the American Environments (or popular culture) department and hopes to corner the market on Elvis Studies, just like Jack has done with Hitler Studies… (read full character analysis)

Heinrich

Jack’s fourteen-year-old son, and the oldest of the children living with the family. Heinrich is an eclectic know-it-all determined to confound his father by intelligently employing obscure knowledge that distorts simple logic. Armed with… (read full character analysis)

Willie Mink (Mr. Gray)

The head researcher in the development of Dylar, a medication that eliminates the fear of death. He tests Babette and deems her suitable for trial treatment, but because of the dangerous side-effects of Dylar, he… (read full character analysis)
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Denise

Babette’s smart and exacting eleven-year-old daughter, whose father is Bob Pardee. Denise is obsessed with monitoring her mother’s health, playing close attention to what Babette eats and never hesitating to inform her of… (read full character analysis)

Wilder

Babette’s son, and the youngest of the children living with her and Jack. Wilder, who behaves like a good-natured toddler, can’t speak more than twenty-five words, a fact that both worries and pleases… (read full character analysis)

Winnie Richards

A colleague of Jack’s at the College-on-the-hill. Winnie is a relatively young neuro-chemist whom everybody on campus regards as brilliant, an assessment that makes her sheepish and reclusive. When Jack finds Babette’s stash of… (read full character analysis)

SIMUVAC Technician

A man working for an organization that stages simulated evacuation drills. Jack talks to this technician during the Airborne Toxic Event, telling him the details of his exposure to Nyodene D. The technician also explains… (read full character analysis)

Vernon Dickey

Babette’s father, who visits unannounced in the middle of the night and stays for several days. Vernon is a gruff man who appreciates manual labor and is highly intelligent in a more pragmatic, working… (read full character analysis)

Howard Dunlop

Jack’s German teacher. Dunlop lives in the same boarding house as Murray, but is reclusive and private. At times, he has also taught Greek, Latin, ocean sailing, and meteorology. Once Murray describes Dunlop… (read full character analysis)

Sister Hermann Marie

The German nun who treats Jack’s bullet wound in the Pentecostal hospital in Iron City. In the course of tending to his wrist, she reveals to Jack that she doesn’t actually believe in God… (read full character analysis)

Old Man Treadwell

A blind man Babette reads to on a weekly basis. The old man has a taste for tabloid magazines like the National Enquirer and the National Examiner, which tout conspiracy theories and rumors. He… (read full character analysis)

Bob Pardee

Denise’s biological father. A glad-hander and natural schmoozer, he is often down on his luck and unreliably searching for new opportunities. When he arrives at Jack and Babette’s house, it is clear that he… (read full character analysis)

Bee

One of Jack’s daughters. Bee, who comes from Jack’s marriage to Tweedy Browner, does not live with Jack and Babette. Because of Tweedy’s insistence that it is good for children to travel… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Steffie
Jack’s seven-year-old daughter and the offspring of his marriage to CIA operative Dana Breedlove. In contrast to her half-brother Heinrich’s taste for disaster and his eagerness to intellectually dupe others, Steffie is emotionally sensitive, often feeling “embarrassed on other people’s behalf.”
Sundar Chakravarty
Jack’s doctor. Initially surprised by Jack’s sudden desire to schedule frequent physicals, Chakravarty confides that he’s glad Jack is taking his role as a patient seriously. Despite this appreciation, though, he is evasive and withholding in his assessment of Jack’s health.
Orest Mercator
Heinrich’s nineteen-year-old friend who is training to set the record for the longest amount of time spent in a cage with deadly snakes. Heinrich clearly admires him, while Jack is puzzled by the boy’s disregard for death—a carelessness he comes to envy and admire.
Gladys Treadwell
Old Man Treadwell’s elderly sister, who dies of “lingering dread” after she and her brother are stuck at the shopping mall for four days straight.
Tweedy Browner
Bee’s mother and one of Jack’s ex-wives. High-strung and independent, she is married to Malcolm Hunt, whom she feels she doesn’t truly know. Bee suggests that Tweedy would benefit from focusing on her own problems, rather than obsessing over the mystery of her husband.
Malcolm Hunt
Tweedy Browner’s current husband and Bee’s stepfather. Malcolm is a “high-level jungle operative” who often goes undercover.
Janet Savory
Heinrich’s mother and yet another of Jack’s ex-wives. A former foreign-currency analyst who carried out research for secret theorists, Janet now goes by the name “Mother Devi” and lives on an ashram, or a place of religious retreat modeled on monastic Hindu communities.
Dana Breedlove
Jack’s ex-wife, whom he married twice. Dana works as a CIA operative who carries money from place to place and reviews books the organization sends her. She is Steffie and Mary Alice’s mother.
Mary Alice
Jack’s oldest child and the daughter of Dana Breedlove. She is nineteen, lives in Hawaii, and works with whales.
Alfonse Stampanato
The head of the American Environments department at the College-on-the-Hill. Alfonse knows four languages, has a photographic memory, and collects prewar soda bottle caps. Like the rest of his department, he is a New York émigré.
Dimitrios Cotsakis
A New York émigré in the American Environments department. The former bodyguard of the musician Little Richard, he dies between the Fall and Spring semesters while surfing, an event that unsettles Jack and Murray because of its suddenness.
Elliot Lasher
One of the New York émigrés in the American Environments department who enjoys having odd, spirited discussions about popular culture, trivia, and circumstantial memories with Murray, Jack, and his other colleagues at lunch.
Nicholas Grappa
Yet another of the New York émigrés in the American Environments department who engages Murray and Jack in odd lunchtime conversations.
Hookstratten
Babette’s doctor, whom Jack calls at home to ask about Dylar.
Tommy Roy Foster
A man in prison for murder. Heinrich plays chess with Tommy in the mail.
Adele T.
A psychic whom the Blacksmith police consult when they need to find a missing person. Although Adele’s visions never lead the police to what they were looking for, she invariably helps them discover and solve some other unknown crime.
SIMUVAC Leader
A man leading the simulated evacuation drill in which Steffie and Heinrich take part. Jack overhears this leader tell the volunteer victims, “The more we rehearse disaster, the safer we’ll be from the real thing.”
Eugene
Babette's son from a previous marriage who is growing up in Australia, and who does not have a TV.